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Are Your Surveys “Conversations” Or “Cold Calls”?

Are Your Surveys “Conversations” or “Cold Calls”?

When launching an online survey, it is your choice to make it a CONVERSATION or a COLD CALL. Inexplicably, the majority of organizations who survey their customers, students, members and employees choose to make it a COLD CALL, yielding the ambiguous results, vague comments, and low response rates that you would expect from an uninvited survey.

Do you doubt this? How many surveys and evaluation forms have you received in your inbox, at events, or at point-of-sale that are cold calls? Clear indicators of a cold call survey is that while filling it out you have the feeling that your ratings and comments will have no impact, the instructions are generic, and you wonder if anyone will bother to read your comments at all! Cold call surveys are typically impersonal, humorless, obligatory, lengthy, poorly-designed, and require a substantial investment in unnecessary incentives.

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Cold calls are the costliest way to do surveys in terms of real dollars, time wasted, and lost opportunities. Why would any organization frustrate their people with this poor practice when it takes less than an hour to transform it into a conversational survey?

I’ve used conversational surveys for more than 15 years and it is not unusual to get more than 50% response rate on an unsolicited survey and more than 90% response rate among members, alumni and students who have a relationship with the organization. Not only do these types of surveys help you to learn the needs and perceptions of the respondents, they also help discover new ideas and directions.

I have talked elsewhere about bite-size surveys, closing-the-loop, engaging instructions, single purpose and other components of the conversational survey. These are the important tactics to use, but the first step is to simply pivot from thinking of your surveys as cold calls to thinking of them as conversations. Once you can see your surveys as an ongoing conversation with a friend or colleague, then you will have a new outlook on the content, frequency, and purpose of surveys and the flaws in your current survey forms and processes will become clear.

I have heard many many stories from those that made this transition – their participants responded in far greater numbers, with more enthusiasm, and with more actionable comments. I would love to hear your story as well! /Doc

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